Friday, July 22, 2011

Tennis Fanitics - Training on Clay is needed for the game!

West Coast Expansion: As more people recognize that playing on clay is essential for the development of champions (note that the USTA has committed to getting more players on clay as part of its training strategy and last month announced the shift of its largest junior tournament, the Orange Bowl, from hard to Har-Tru), the west coast stands to have the most to gain. Junior tennis players in this huge tennis market simply do not have adequate exposure to clay court tennis, hence the drought of champions from the great state of California (hear what Vania King has to say about training on clay). That tide is beginning to turn. Napa Valley Country Club became the first club in NorCal to install ClayTech courts and other clubs are scrambling to see how they can add clay and avoid falling behind.

Har-Tru Sports is the largest manufacturer of clay tennis court surfaces in the world. We have courts in all 50 American states and approximately 23 countries worldwide. We want to help develop champions around the world and hope to do this through product innovation, scholarships and sponsorships. Let us know how we can help you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Growing Internationally - Har-Tru Courts

International Expansion: In May Australia installed its first Har-Tru HydroCourt at Macquarie University in Sydney. It has received rave reviews for playability and ease of maintenance, with Tony Roche amongst those using the court to train top junior players. We expect that this will lead the way for 50-60 courts in the next few years.

Clay court interest in China continues to grow and the ascension of Li Na to Roland Garros champion is accelerating the Chinese Tennis Associations push to train their future champions on clay. Li trained for Roland Garros on one of our red HydroCourts in Beijing. I guess it helped! The momentum around clay has also resulted in the first ClayTech court shipping to China this month. We have orders for 7 more to go over in the ensuing months.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Exciting New Times at Har-Tru Sports!

In case you haven't heard we changed our name from Lee Tennis Court Products to Har-Tru Sports. While Lee Tennis has had a reputation for expertise in clay court surfacing dating back to the early 1960’s, the Har-Tru brand has been around for 80 years and has considerably more equity amongst tennis players worldwide. We are excited to lead with Har-Tru for now on and think it will help us connect with tennis players across the globe.

In conjunction with the name change we launched the new It has never been more evident that clay courts help tennis players develop the core skills required to become champions. This site helps you understand why. It features cool videos of how to master clay court shots and become a champion in your own right. It also shows off the innovative products we have brought to market that improve the playing experience and make clay court ownership simpler.

We'd love to hear what you think of our new website and how you feel about the name change.

Friday, July 30, 2010

All Is Fair

While recently participating in the USTA district tournament there was an interesting moment during my second match at number 2 doubles. After having won the first set 7-5, we were down 3-1 in the second set when one of our opponents cramped up and fell while trying to get to a drop shot. Now interestingly enough, after about a ten minute interruption in play, my partner says to me “you know we can’t pick on that guy now.” Well I instantly said, are you kidding me? Having played competitive sports all of my life, I felt that the only thing to do was to keep going at this guy. Well after play resumed, his first serve came to me and I simply hit a drop shot as a return. Now my question to you is this, do you think it’s part of the game to pick on an injured player or was I out of line? I personally think that if that if you choose to play then all is fair! I’m curious as to what you would have done!

Tracy Lynch
Wholesale Accounts Manager

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup Soccer - Can Tennis Take a Cue?

While I would not call myself a soccer fan I cannot help but be captivated by the World Cup. I am swept up in the media coverage and ride the wave of the infectious, international enthusiasm. I am compelled to watch and find myself looking forward to seeing teams and learning about players that I know absolutely nothing about. There are definitely parts of soccer games that I find unappealing. The games can be downright boring at times with teams playing more defense than offense. The games can end in a tie! Talk about a letdown. And the flopping and generally whiny attitude drives me crazy, as well as the “I am the greatest”, individual celebrations after a goal is scored. But I am willing to accept that as the nature of the sport and watch none the less. I particularly admire the incredible physical shape these athletes are in and the support and camaraderie amongst teammates.

What can tennis learn from this? I would like to hear what you have to say. Here are my observations:

1 – Team events appeal to sports fans. Tennis needs to reconsider team concepts, perhaps including men and women on the same teams.

2 – Every 4 years works for soccer and I think it could work for tennis. There is plenty of tennis going on in the interim and clearing schedules, much as soccer does, to allow a centrally located team competition every 4 years would attract new fans and broaden support for the sport.

3 – Bring all the teams to one location and complete play over one month. The international pageantry around the World Cup, and similarly the Olympics, is a major factor in the contagious enthusiasm. This allows countries to roll out their brand of the sport and allows fans from all around the world to congregate around a common interest. And I have to believe there would be non tennis fans, similar to this non soccer fan, who would tune in.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Preparing for the French Open

Like an artist painting a fresh canvas, the grounds staff at Roland Garrros creates a masterpiece each spring as they prepare the clay courts for the French Open. Its spring time in Paris and I have the unique opportunity to watch these modern day Picasso’s as they prepare to “paint” another exciting chapter in the history of tennis. This will be the only place and time in my experience with clay where I come to appreciate art over science as the renovation of center court begins.

The pristine red surface is blended into the limestone layer below as the week-long process gets under way. The court turns from red to pink under the hum of a diesel powered tractor, sawing its way along the old baselines. The entire surface is “fluffed” up at least 2”. Followed by a series of hand-leveling and rolling cycles, the “artists” push old wooden lutes back and forth to smooth and level the playing surface while the court is rolled firm.

Then by instinct the court is deemed ready for several new layers of fresh brick dust or “brick broken”. Skillfully thrown across the court with a hand shovel and the flick of the wrist, the brick dust lands in a perfect fan shape across the court.

According to the Federation Francaise de Tennis, the coloring layer serves 3 functions: to avoid players being disturbed by light reverberating on the limestone, to ensure sufficient contrast between the ground and the ball and to reconcile sliding and pushing off.

The court is hand-watered, dragged and rolled a few times over between “brick broken” applications. A total of 1-1/2 tons of brick dust will be applied to achieve a certain and unscientific “look” and “feel”. A single coating of linseed oil is applied with paint brushes prior to spraying on the line paint. The canvas is complete and center court is ready for a new day.

It looks as though the French Open will get off to a warm and sunny start this weekend. The remainder of next week however is forecasted to keep my friends on the grounds crew busy. I have learned much from these “artists”. I will think of them often as I watch a new chapter unfold in the history of Roland Garros.

Ed MonteCalvo
Consulting Services Manager
Lee Tennis Court Products

Clay Court Tennis on the rise in China

After four days of a massive Sports Trade Show in Beijing it is very apparent that Tennis in general and Clay Courts in particular are now part of the Tennis scene. It reminded me of the old days in Miami as to how busy we were at the booth and the people who wanted to find out about Clay Courts. We showed our above ground Har-tru court in a model, our American Red in a HydroCourt model, and both our Green Har-tru and a European Red Clay in ClayTech models. It was really interesting to see the reactions and the whole point was to establish our partner Chai Yong as the clay court expert of China which has been a hard court world up until the last few years. Lots of education went on as Chai really has become the local expert and with the courts he has built and the experience he has in taking care of them he has most of the answers. It is interesting how you don’t have to know the language to know what they are talking about. Don’t get me wrong, I was worthless unless Chai had a question, but it was like the old days in the sense of educating the folks on how HydroCourt works and all the different options and there pros and cons.

The bottom line is that China is developing a Tennis Market not unlike what we did years ago. No one seems to have any good data on how many folks are playing tennis here but there must be demand or all those people wouldn’t be so interested. Once again the advantages of learning the game on clay is the big driver as the Chinese pride in their athletes and how they look to the world still trumps any comfort issues that may be side benefits to them.

I have meet a lot of great people here and they are extremely hard workers and have been wonderful to me as I muddle my way through the world over here. It is both an adventure and a challenge and I definitely recommend a visit to the world of China.

John Welborn

Lee Tennis

From Beijing, China